The Becket Connection - Visualising Medieval Canterbury

Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Dee Dyas, Patrick Gibbs, 2020

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Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Dee Dyas, Patrick Gibbs (2020) The Becket Connection - Visualising Medieval Canterbury [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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The Becket Connection - Visualising Medieval Canterbury

The Becket Connection', an AHRC follow-on project, built upon the research and 3D visualisation development undertaken as part of the 2014-17 AHRC-funded project 'Pilgrimage and England's Cathedrals, Past and Present' (PEC). This earlier work explored patterns of medieval and contemporary pilgrimage and developed a series of interior visualisations within Canterbury Cathedral in roughly 1408 AD to highlight how specific spaces were used for certain pilgrimage practices. 'The Becket Connection' sought to contextualise these interior visualisations by recreating the surrounding medieval city of Canterbury during a phase of critical development around 1450 AD. By visualising the city, Canterbury's importance as a medieval pilgrimage 'boom town', which grew up around the increasingly significant cult surrounding St Thomas Becket, could be better explored.

The primary aim of 'The Becket Connection' was to develop resources for the 'Becket 2020' anniversary of St Thomas's birth (900 years), death (850 years) and translation to the Canterbury Cathedral shrine (800 years) that drew pilgrims from across Europe. This major commemoration will feature a number of events, exhibitions and collaborations with benefits for local and regional culture, heritage tourism, education, and community engagement. Key partners include Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Canterbury City Council, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Business Improvement District, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury Museums & Galleries, the British Museum, and Museum of London.

The 3D visualisation created during the project drew upon new historical research and utilised archaeological excavation and survey evidence from the past 50 years to inform the visualisation process. The project team, based at the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, collaborated with Canterbury Cathedral, the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and the University of Kent to develop models that respected current archaeological understanding where evidence existed. The final outputs included not only the entirety of the city of Canterbury (within the city walls) in c.1450 AD, but also visualisations of St Augustine's Abbey and the parish church of St Martin's, which lie to the east of the city and which together with the Cathedral comprise the main elements of the World Heritage Site.

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